Mizu Yōkan is a wonderful refreshment and dessert made from Anko and agar-agar. It was introduced to Japan in the 12th century when it was made of wheat flour and azuki beans. Agar was discovered in the 17th century, turned it into a gluten free food and improved the dessert so much that it became one of the most popular gifts for friends in Japan.
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Step 1: Ingredients:
- 50grams sugar (optional)
- 250grams water
- 200grams anko
- 4grams agar
- 1pinch salt
Use mineral water for the dessert, it's water you are going to consume and not pouring away. For decoration you could use a pickled cherry tree leaf, instructable here. If you used my recipe to produce Anko then you need to refine the red bean paste by sifting to remove the skins. If you use premade Anko then you don't have to use additional sugar, it is usually sweet enough.
- cooking pot
- cooking spoon
- kitchen scale
Step 2: Refining the Anko
Skip this step if you have Anko of Koshi-An or Tsubushi-An quality. Otherwise take the thickened red bean paste and blend, mash or puree the beans. I decided to not sift out the skins (Tsubushi-An), because I like the taste.
Step 3: Boiling
Measure the 4 grams of agar and add the water. Stir or whisk until everything is dissolved. Then bring it to a boil and reduce to medium heat for 2 minutes. Meanwhile fill your sink for 5 cm with cold water so you can cool your cooking pot in it afterwards. Add the sugar if needed, add the salt and stir while increasing the heat. When everything is dissolved reduce the heat to medium again.
Step 4: Add Anko
Add the Anko and stir until everything is dissolved. Cook for another minute and then place the cooking pot in the cold water in your sink while stirring. When the mixture is thickening then pour it into a mould. Traditionally, in Japan they use a loaf pan called nagashikan, but you can take almost any baking tray or silicon mould with a flat floor.
Step 5: Filling the Moulds
There are many variations of Yōkan, with chestnuts for example, even inside of it. After I poured the Yōkan into the moulds I decided to place white chocolate with mint flavour onto the fresh bars. Then let it cool on the counter for 15 minutes before you put it into the fridge for at least 2 hours.
Step 6: Decorate It
Cut it into the wished serving size and decorate it either with a pickled cherry tree leaf or with candy, with nuts or with nothing. It is a great refreshement in the summer and tastes wonderful. Try it out!